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How is Mauritius (island in the Indian Ocean) likely to be affected by climate change?

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Climate change is the greatest environmental challenge facing the world today. Climate change refers to any change in global temperatures and precipitation over time due to natural variability or to human activity for example pollution. With a tropical climate that ensures predominantly sunny weather throughout the year, Mauritius, a small island in the Indian Ocean has often been the envy of other countries with extreme weather conditions. However, recently Mauritius has been facing drastic changes and these have affected us Mauritians both positively and negatively in many ways.

Tourism is the world’s largest and fastest growing industry. Tourism is one of the most important pillars of our economy as the foremost advantage is that it brings a lot of foreign currency. At the same time new infrastructure is built and a lot of jobs are created. Unfortunately due to our constantly changing weather conditions fewer tourists come here as they are looking for better destinations. As a result our economy is at stake less foreign currency, and eventually this leads to employment. On the other hand Mauritius should broaden its economy- find more pillars so that it becomes resilient. Mauritius is already investing on information technology likewise other sectors should also be empowered.

Mauritius being a small country is trying to be self- sufficient by growing its own vegetables and fruits and exporting fruits that bring a lot of foreign currency. Moreover Mauritius depends a lot on the sugar cane industry. Regrettably slight change in the climate will definitely affect the growing plants. There will surely be a great decrease in production of fruits and vegetables. Mauritius will therefore experience deficit in its export and will eventually have to depend a lot in its imports. Yet hydroponic systems can be used but these were proved to be expensive and demand a lot of care. A more convenient way to save our agriculture is to genetically modify plants. The plants will eventually be bigger, better and can adapt to the new climate. Ultimately this will facilitate our exports.

One of the main problems these changes are causing is the health service. Hotter summers mean more risks of epidemic especially related to diseases spread by mosquitoes for example, the “Chikungunia”. Colder winters leads to a high percentage of people catching different and new varieties of influenzas and even asthma, which is becoming a more and more grave problem as many people are becoming asthmatics. Consequently if the work force is ill the country will not function normally and this might lead to a downfall in our economy. Nevertheless, people should be sensitized about the precautionary measures they should take to avoid these by advertisements on television or radio. The should also be educated about balanced meals and how important they are to help the person stay healthy enough to reduce the risks of being greatly affected by these diseases.

While other countries experience freezing cold, heavy snows, floods, droughts and forceful winds, we too have experienced our fair share of radical weather disbalances from heavy rains to sweltering heats. One major change is about the cyclones. They are more frequent in Mauritius and more destructive. Though they bring a lot of rain that help us during the unbearable hot seasons, some regions are flooded. In addition to this Government expenses increases owing to destruction caused by cyclones for example our infrastructure- Public buildings, roads, streetlights, water pipes, and communication lines. Lately we had to face torrential rains and a little girl lost her life in it. This was because all these ere new to us. For that reason Government should take immediate actions and already invest in an effective water drain system during floods and cyclones. Buildings should be designed and built with strong materials in such a way that they are able to resist strong cyclones.

The vast part of the sea that belongs to us is now creating problems to us. Changing sea temperatures are causing the death of various fish in some parts of the lagoon. Variation of the seawater causes the sea animals to move to other places and this deeply affect the harvest of sea creatures. Fishermen will subsequently have problem in finding the fish and this will direct to a huge decrease in the amount of sea animals caught. A change in temperature of the sea may also lead to extinction of a few species and at the same time lead to some species evolving and adapting to the new type of climate thus forming new species. Fisherman should be given financial help so that they can enjoy the sophisticated equipment that will help them to motor and locate the animals.

The new climate can offer many possibilities to harness renewable clean sources of energy: Solar energy- The strong rays of the sun can be used in solar panels, solar cells, solar collectors and photovoltaic, wind energy- huge wind turbines can be turned into generators to produce electricity, tidal energy. However this project will require massive investment, which might be too expensive for the government to incur. This can be possible only over a long period of time so the Government can plan this project and devise it in such a way that it stretches over different stages. This will be much more easier to finance and implement.

We may not be able to completely stop all the problems caused by the climatic change but we can minimise the consequences these have upon us.

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